“real life” vs. online life (thank you for the great birthday)

I don’t call it “real life,” I call it my “offline life.” The friendships I have with people I’ve known “only” online are Real.

The first thing I do when I wake up is look at my phone. Yes, yes, it’s not terribly mindful or spiritual, but it’s part of my routine. When I woke up yesterday morning, I had three emails. One from a college friend who I’ve only seen offline twice in the last 25 years. One from a friend and colleague here in Maine. And, one (a Starbucks gift card, no less) from a friend I’ve known “only” online for nearly 20 years.

Throughout the day, as Facebook told more people it was my birthday, there were notifications that Facebook friends had posted happy birthday wishes. In other online communities, I received birthday messages both light and heartfelt. My virtual mailboxes were overflowing with notes. It felt like I was receiving birthday cards like we might’ve received in the snail mail so many years ago. But back then, how many cards did we ever really receive? Certainly not more than 100, as I got in Facebook posts.

It’s easy to dismiss the “click and post” birthday wishes as shallow. They aren’t, though. For some they may be automatic, for some they may be deep, but in every case, as my 12 year old pointed out, “They don’t *have to* do it.” It felt like lovely attention sparkling across my electronic devices throughout the day.

Yesterday was perfect. My daughters started out the day right by letting me sleep in a bit (until my alarm). I got a pedicure (thanks, Mom and Dad!). I did a lot of modern day capitalist celebrating by spending money at “discounts.” I got a free drink at Starbucks, 20% off at Goodwill, and a free small cheese pizza (with a $5 purchase) at Portland House of Pizza. An offline friend took me out to lunch. My parents sang me happy birthday. I watched a movie with my daughters in the air conditioned room of our apartment. The three of us crammed into my (king sized) bed (we “crammed” because they don’t seem to know how to sleep with space between us) for an early bedtime.

The deeper friendships I have with online “only” people are just as real as those I have with people who I only know offline. There are still people, I know, who don’t understand the “virtual” relationships. I have to keep using “quotes” because the relationships are not virtual. They are Real, and I’m so grateful for them. Because of the online relationships I have, in all their forms, my offline day yesterday was richer.



Filed under friendship, my life story

learning through life experience (gardening)

On Friday, I turned this



and this…IMG_3604


Into this

and this…IMG_3608


As I was vigorously yanking weeds and easily avoiding vegetable plants, it struck me I know more than a lot of people might about gardening. This is not on purpose. Through decades of being around my parents and their gardening—and having household chores that included gardening work—I just absorbed the information; a kind of osmosis. I don’t remember ever being told how to recognize the early leaves of the squash-types of plants (they also look sort of like early sunflower leaves), for example, or which plants like having their lowest branches snipped with pinched fingers (tomato plants) because it makes them grow stronger.

My older daughter weeded “her” section of the garden and that’s when I realized it’s happening for her, too. She said, “Weird, there’s basil here!” and kept weeding. Then she said, “No, it’s not,” and she pulled it. She then recognized it as a bell pepper plant and re-planted it. (We think it’ll be fine — I know from experience that vegetable plants as a general rule are pretty darned hardy.)

As I kept working on the rest of the weeding, I got lost in thoughts about how my life path has been affected by the odd and useful bits of knowledge about plant life. I thought about children who have never seen vegetables growing in a garden. When I go for walks, I can pick out loads of different edible plants — when did I learn those things? I don’t know — all of it makes me feel very connected to the earth.

Then I think about all I don’t know. Like how surviving on “the streets” would require knowledge I don’t already have. Getting by on a minimum wage job sounds impossible to me, in part because it’s absurd to expect people to survive on such low incomes, but also because those survival skills are not a part of my life experience.

Weeding the garden this weekend, I found a peaceful place—centered and fleeting—in both gratitude and humility.




Filed under mindful living, my life story

when every bit matters

The coffers are nearly empty (my bank balances are precariously low, requiring transfers from now dwindling savings) so kohlrabi greens seem worth saving. They would be worth saving in any case, of course. But, if I wasn’t so aware of trying to make our food stretch, I probably wouldn’t take the time to “process” them; washing, parboiling, and freezing. They’ll work just like kale, though more on the collards side of the greens textures. Good for soups or mixed into casserole types of dishes. I’m not much for recipes, so having varied and even odd frozen ingredients on hand works well for me.

One of the biggest challenges I continue facing as I learn to live within my means is fully grasping the reality that the cash flow is very, very limited. I grew up with the sense that everything will be okay, it’ll all work out. There will always be enough. It’s hard to shake that comforting feeling, but it leads to bad choices (hello Starbucks) if I let it color the reality.



Filed under mindful living, no groceries, socio-economic class


What needs for translation are going unmet in the healthcare system? Assuming people of means don’t have problems with receiving the highest quality care, including translation services, what options are available for the poor? (My yoga instructor’s mother is at the Barron Center where there are NO TRANSLATORS who speak Spanish.)

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Filed under column ideas, tidbits

idea snippets

I mentioned in a Facebook post that while I’m usually full of ideas for columns, I don’t often write down the little starter thoughts I have so I can explore them later. I think I’m going to post these snippet thoughts here on serenebabe.net as a way to keep track of them. Perhaps I’ll also gauge people’s interest if there is a response to one idea more than others. If you have ideas for columns regarding socioeconomic issues and Maine you’d like to see covered, please let me know.

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Filed under column ideas, tidbits